With this year’s Sociable Surveyor Awards approaching on 1 September, we spoke to Alex Macaulay, one of last year’s winners, about his experience on this unique internship programme.
What attracted you to the property sector?
I had always been interested in the built environment and how it changed around me, and was particularly aware of new housing developments from a young age. That led me to gain work experience in residential development and subsequently in estate agency as I became intrigued by the transactional aspect.
I was then drawn to London by the profile of the buildings and general dynamics of the market. Being naturally captivated by the scale of the commercial sector, I decided that I was better suited to working in this field.
Why did you decide to apply to Sociable Surveyors?
The experience that Sociable Surveyors offered for successful applicants was really attractive. I was also keen on being able to present in a video submission, as I feel it offers a completely different dynamic to the conventional application with CV and covering letter.
I knew that Sociable Surveyors had access to all the top agents and property companies, and it was a no-brainer for me to try to obtain maximum exposure at that critical time when trying to secure a placement.
What was your internship with Sociable Surveyors like?
I was fortunate enough to be offered a Hybrid Internship, comprising a three-part placement during which you spend time with a law firm, an agent and a property company; in my placement, these were Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), Knight Frank and Land Securities.
My time with BLP was invaluable as it gave me the opportunity to see the market from a completely different perspective to that which I had previously experienced and studied. I was able to assist with some really interesting transactions and gain an insight into how the legal aspect of surveying work is undertaken.
I had also been really keen to spend some time with a global agent such as Knight Frank and gain experience in the area where I felt I would begin my career. I interned in the healthcare department with very little knowledge of the sector, and really appreciated the exposure it gave me. By the time I was due to join Land Securities, I had already accepted an offer to join Knight Frank’s graduate programme.
How has your experience with Sociable Surveyors helped you in your current role?
My experience has allowed me to broaden my professional network both by meeting people at events and also by spending time with the companies where I gained work experience. Ultimately, this led me to return to the same team where I was intern at Knight Frank, which otherwise may not have been feasible.
What has been a career highlight or your most interesting project so far?
I wouldn’t necessarily say there has been one particular experience that has stood out from the rest; but even in the relatively brief 14 months I have been at Knight Frank, I feel I have gained some really broad experience.
I also feel that I have joined at a really good time for the business itself, as during my time in property asset management, the team won the mandate to manage the globally renowned DP World London Gateway Logistics Park ‑ the largest logistics development in the South East of England. Furthermore, while in my current position, the healthcare team was nominated as a finalist at the 2016 Health Investor Awards for Transactional Consultants of the year.
This demonstrates the company’s wide-ranging market presence, and the fact that I have been able to gain first-hand experience is testament to the mobility provided by the structure of the graduate programme.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I intend to have been qualified for a few years and working in a transactional capacity at Knight Frank. There is a real emphasis in the firm on capitalising on its global network and the opportunities associated with it, so if all goes well, maybe I’ll get to spend the time in Australia or the USA.